'Cases are rising': UC Berkeley students push for remote start to spring semester amid COVID surge

The student VP for student affairs is concerned, "cases are rising, and I am seeing the other schools act on this but not us."
BERKELEY, Calif. (KGO) -- UC Berkeley is set to begin their next semester on January 18 with in-person classes. They are the only UC school that has not announced a plan to begin undergraduate spring classes with virtual instruction.

Some students are now expressing concern.

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"We already have an issue with close quarters in classes," said James Weichert, the student Vice President for student affairs. "Cases are rising, and I am seeing the other schools act on this but not us."

The university announced back in December it will continue with it's in-person plan.

ABC7 News reached out to school officials Thursday, and they said they continue to monitor the situation, and are not ruling out the possibility of changing it's learning plan. UC Berkeley does have numerous testing and vaccination requirements in place for students and staff.

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Back on campus and in person for the first time since COVID, graduation ceremonies held at the SJSU honored the students of 2020 and 2021.

"Obviously there is something the other schools saw in their research that made them think going back in person is not the right thing," Weichert said. "I don't feel confident that we are the only one out the nine that is not making that decision."

The Berkeley Health Department reported its highest daily coronavirus case count. The city says they will try and make testing available to all residents and students. However, they also said the school should consider a remote start to the year.

"We are fortunate here in Berkeley to have one of the highest vaccination rates in the country," said Rigel Robinson, City Councilmember for district 7. "Obviously we all want our students to safely attend class in person but returning to remote learning has to be part of the conversation."

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Weichert thinks starting the year remote will make it easier to go back to in-person learning.

"I don't know what makes us different than the others," he said. "Just saying out front that we are going to do a period so we can all quarantine, and get tested and go from there."

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